Health officials said Hong Kong’s medical system has been overloaded by the fifth-wave Covid-19 outbreak, as hospitals moved to prioritise high-need patients. Meanwhile, some 40 Hospital Authority staff tested preliminary positive on Friday.

During Friday afternoon’s Covid-19 briefing, Head of the Communicable Disease Branch of the Centre for Health Protection Chuang Shuk-kwan reported 1,325 new cases and more than 1,500 preliminary positive cases.

Photo: Video screenshot, via RTHK.

“[The current outbreak] has exceeded our [health care system’s] capacity, now we are thinking of all possible means to quarantine patients and close contacts as soon as possible,” Chuang said.

In the same meeting, the Chief Manager of Integrated Clinical Services at the Hospital Authority, Larry Lee, said there were more than 2,000 patients currently in hospitals and other community treatment or isolation facilities, while over 85 per cent of isolation wards were already occupied.

Lee also reported that more than 40 Hospital Authority employees – including doctors, nurses and supporting staff – had tested preliminary positive. He said most were infected in the community or by family.

Government implemented lockdown and compulsory testing in Yuen Long. Photo: GovHK.

Lee said the Hospital Authority would arrange rapid tests for all employees, with frontline clinical staff as the priority.

As the public health system has been overloaded, Lee said they would try to “limit” hospitals’ intakes to take care of needy patients such as the elderly, younger children, pregnant women or people with “significant medical histories.”

Chuang also said that the criteria for compulsory testing orders had changed. Going forward, notices would only be issued if infections were found in two units of the same building “in a very short period.” Previously, a notice was issued if cases were identified in just one unit.

The change was made because of long queues at testing centres across the city and the high case numbers in the community, Chuang said.

2 more deaths

Health authorities also reported two new deaths on Friday. An 86-year-old man and an 88-year-old woman died.

According to Lee, the 86-year-old had received one dose of the Sinovac vaccine, while there was no data yet on the 88-year-old.

Of Friday’s new cases, two were imported and 1,323 were local. Among those whose genome sequencing had been completed, 1,270 were suspected Omicron infections, while 24 were believed to carry the Delta variant.

The city has reported 20,119 Covid-19 cases and 218 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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